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If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday. ~Pearl Buck
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First of all, Death Trap is not included in the masterpieces list because it does not feel exciting to me. But we're still left with as many as 10 masterpieces on our hands! Lots of novelties and good stories this year, but the VN of the year 1984 is Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin: Ohotsk ni Kiyu. And one of the reasons for that is that this work both used command selection AND allowed to use only a short list of commands. Another reason is that the game feels very realistic both in characters, dialogues and landscapes. The mystery is great as well since the three consecutive murders seem completely unrelated. No other work in 1984 is same engaging. It just feels like a professional AAA class game like no other game of 1984.
The masterpieces of the year are:
1. Joshi Ryou Panic,
2. Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken,
3. Star Arthur Densetsu I ~Wakusei Mephius~,
4. Mio no Mystery Adventure,
5. Dezeni Land.
The VN of the year 1983 is Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken, because it introduced command selection that was used for many years to come. It's a huge step from text parser. There was another revolutionary game Star Arthur Densetsu that introduced point-and-click elements for the first time, but the main part remained with the text parser there.
I used to like VNs rated. To such extent that whenever I could not find an english localized VN review with a rating, I wanted to make a review with a rating myself. And usual vote ratings aren't reliable since anyone can vote for any rate, even having dumped the actual VN. As of late my opinion on this matter changed drastically. What a review actually needs instead of being structured one (like this my old review) is just to transfer impressions, VN core, noticeable flaws and afterthoughts. This way author does not need to retell the same things in several parts and review brings more useful information and wastes less time for writing. Majority of blog authors that I enjoy reading write in free style without ratings. At the same time ratings and some structure are almost always present in amateur reviews. Hence is the poll question. So here is my flawed structured review on the game that noone ever heard of and will certainly never will (and I'd never picked that out of free will). Some kind shepherd translated this VN into English, but never bothered to actually hack the game, so translation only exists as a word document. Now I know that it was not a good idea since there turned out to be some 100 branches with vastly coinciding text and a lot of confusion with search.
Foreword: The novel under review is Anaheim Girl's Love Story by short doujin-maker studio Fan-na and it's here only because it miraculously managed to stretch the dialogues to 10 hours and because there appeared a person to actually translate all those talks and because the only review I found is fuwa-fuwa review on yurination with no score given - thus all three conditions miraculously coincided and here I am trying to figure what this game is about. I only appreciate platonic yuri relations, never ever watched anything of Gundam series and greatly oppose doujins and nukige - oh, well, that clearly puts me out of target group, but at least it's going to be unbiased.
Original Title: アナハイム・ガールズ・ラブストーリー
Release Date: 2009-12-30 (English translation published 2013-02-10)
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v6924
Game Type: Yuri story
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: There is basically only one partner and all three endings are outcomes of decision what to do about her her.
Story Rating: 3/10
Protagonist Rating: 2/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 2/10
Rating Comments: Well, I do not know where to start. Story is plain, protagonist is baka-baka shoujo, all the photoshopped backgrounds and sprite models are crap.
- HCG are good
- There aren't too many yuri VNs, especially this bold type
- Gundam fans may be thrilled with such undercover of Gerbera alteration events
- Game has 10 funny omake stories and seiyu freetalk
- Plain Story
- Irritating background and character sprites drawing
- Very random actions of heroes
- Bland and clishe characters
Well, I've been around VNs for about 15 years. As far as I can remember, my first game was MS-DOS Three Sisters Story, what we know now as San Shimai. At that time such games were the first erotic games along with Snake games and Poker ones and were referred as forbidden fruit. That game was a shock - what should have been a light experience turned out to be a really difficult story. All the characters were so nice that I really did not want to blackmail their father and looked for ways to stop my brother from revenge. Risa was so young that the only feeling I had was to protect her. The scene of fire and confrontation with brother was very well set. So what's the blog purpose? I'll get there... eventually...
So over this time I've played a lot of VNs, mostly in japanese with Translation Aggregator and sometimes with machine translation just because I missed VNDB appearance and kept thinking that TLWiki had the full list of english translated VNs... how I was WRONG. I've even looked through all the titles on Getchu just to pick several companies which art I especially liked. One of those games was Katahane by Tarte and I just played all games of that company since I'm kind of completionist (like I've watched over 1000 anime titles till had absolutely nothing left to interest me, watched all the doramas that interested me at d-addicts wiki etc etc) and those were very weird games, but at least I got a quite different outlook. So, the purpose of the blog? I know, I know, any time soon I'll be there...
So my purpose is to know absolutely all of VNs great stories. But I see some difficutlies in there (you see them too, right?). Anime has only about 3500 TV titles (and there's just a handful of really interesting OVA) and the majority of them have subs, so watching 1000 tv seasons of anime is not that big of a problem. So what should I do with over 20,000 novels of average 10 hours length with my still limited knowledge of japanese and greatly limited time? I've got and easy answer - just get rid of bad VNs and read good thorough reviews on the plot of good VNs. Phew, case closed... Well, not really. So the purpose of this blog... no, not yet! But I promise it wont take long!
So VNDB actually discovered the world of translated VNs for me but description tells us quite nothing about the game, only about the synopsis and no matter how many times i reread it, I don't seem to understand anything about the game. And discussions either show the everlasting 0 or some unanswered question and almost never a review, let along a thorough one. And since there are a lot of VNs there without the needed tags, I can completely miss some titles, which is inappropriate for such a completionist. Reviews are scattered around multiple blogs and forums and google tends to forget to render a great deal of them. Visual novels are virtually books, books = stories, that's the most important aspect of them and can't be ignored. So I really need a review section on VNDB. And since it might not come in our lifetime, I've promissed ( https://vndb.org/t950.310 ) to make my own vndb for reviews till such section comes to life. And here it is http://vndbreview.tigrimigri.com
Since I've zero experience with web design I had to use a ready solution - semantic mediawiki (and grind through that). There are quite some annoying technical restrictions which are gracefully avoided in VNDB and no beauties of custom css and such, but it does the job and allows me to gather reviews and show the result in a comfortable way. That's what really matters. Even though it's on a free hosting with free domain I really hope you can add some links of reviews and impressions in there as well since I can miss smth from 98,000 posts of VN talk in here.
And since I hate to waste other people's time here's my review of one of antique VN oddities Cosmology of Kyoto to make the whole post useful.
Producers: Soft Edge & Yano Electric
Release Date: 1993 (english version 1994-08-01 for Mac OS)
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v14314
Game Type: Unique eduactional story on Heian period in Japanese history
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: The Story is more or less easy to grasp as there are only few actions that actually needed to be taken to get the endgame notion. What makes it this long is slow adaptability to interface, game mechanics and great the abundance of exploration options.
Story Rating: 10/10
Protagonist Rating: 5/10
Game Quality: Varies
Overall Rating: 8/10
Rating Comments: I am most assuredly going to be blamed for setting such a low rating to a unique educational spiritual and revolutionary game for the time of its issue, but i believe i have some good points to support my choice.
First things first - mechanics of the game. Cosmology of Kyoto is and interactive adventure and most of the time we spend wondering the streets. Turning only allowed by 90 degrees. There are only three things that are worth mentioning here. We need a katana to defend from multiple vagabonds. We need to learn Sutra to defend from demons. We need special outfits to be allowed to special places.
The example of extinguishing demons with Sutra
Character Summary: There are only several named characters in the game and all of them are covered well by encyclopedia. Half of them are mad, the other half are priests and warriors who actually help us defend from devils in some events. Protagonist has no character at all. Despite the fact that we create our body and face at the beginning of the game - with each death we're given a random body.
The most useful character in game
Music Score: 5/10. I failed to hear any music. It might be due to the fact that i failed to find Mac PC to play in original and used DosBox for that. But as for voices, all the dialogues are voiced (but not the protagonist) and voicing quality is good.
- Unique atmosphere of medieval Japan
- A well made built-in encyclopedia that holds information on all the locations, all the named characters, all the events background and what not.
- Great events and actual pictures. I think i've seen about a hundred of different demons with their unique faces and bodies. The scenes and very vivid and memorable, especially those of seven layers of hell.
- Game claims to be educational and contains quite a few historic figures.
- Most of the time is spent in aimless wondering
- Game fails to exhort educational function due to the fact that all historical events are greatly folklorized and fails to play entertainment function since apart of rare events there's nothing really fun about it.
- Interface and controls are very simplistic for the interactive adventure exploration game
- Several bugs that make the game freeze. E.g. there are two cool old men, one 800 and another 900 years old who know absolutely everything in the world, but while speaking to them game always crashes.